Shenandoah Valley candy plant savors sweet success

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The Hershey Co.’s Stuarts Draft manufacturing plant has changed considerably in the past 30 years.

The Shenandoah Valley plant began operation with 150 employees producing Reese’s Pieces. Today, the facility employs nearly 900 workers producing 15 brands including Almond Joy, Mounds, Whatchamacallit, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey’s Kisses.

The plant has seen two major expansions in the past 15 years. In 1997, Hershey invested $57 million, upgrading the plant’s machinery and adding five manufacturing lines. Another $7 million was invested in the plant in 2009.

“Hershey has invested in the Stuarts Draft plant and the local Virginia economy throughout the plant’s 30 years, and we look forward to making chocolate here for many years to come,.” Michael Jackson, the Stuarts Draft plant manager, said in a statement.

Hershey marked the 30th anniversary of the plant last Friday with an event attended by a number of local officials and U.S. Rep. Robert Goodlatte.

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